How to Grow a Healthy Venus Flytrap
by 'Wild' Bill Matthews
In the wild, carnivorous plants grow in sunny, wet, boggy, humid areas in nutrient poor soil. Because the soil is so poor these plants trap and digest insects in order to get the nutrients they need. With proper care, you can grow a Venus Flytrap (VFT) that will live for many years.
The most important factor in keeping your plant healthy is to USE ONLY PURE WATER!! Distilled water purchased from a store, rainwater collected in a bucket, or water from a creek or stream (that is free from fertilizers) are all good choices. Tap water will potentially kill your plant. Think about it – bogs don’t reach out and turn on the faucet. Boiling the tap water, letting it stand overnight, or using a filter such as Brita may get rid of chlorine, but will NOT work unless you intend to kill the plant. Salts, minerals and other chemicals will eventually build up and poison your Flytrap.
Use the Tray Method: To grow and water your VFT, sit the potted plant in a saucer, tray, or dish and maintain a 1/2 to 1 inch of water level in the tray. Once in a while let the water in the dish evaporate to 1/8 inch deep before refilling it.
Venus Flytraps like a sunny or partially sunny location. They also grow well under fluorescent lights if they are 3 to 6 inches away from the bulbs. In the spring, summer, and fall they do best outside in full sun.
Flytraps do not live in potting soil. Use a growing in a mixture of 1/2 sand (not from the beach, washed play sand or sand from a creek is ok) and 1/2 peat moss. Long Fiber Sphagnum moss as a growing medium is also good.
DO NOT FERTILIZE - THIS WILL KILL THE PLANT.
You do not HAVE to feed the traps. Venus Flytraps can and will catch their own prey and they can go a long time without being fed. If you choose to feed it, give it SMALL insects. Insects much larger than 1/2 the size of the trap could be too big, overwhelming it. When this happens the trap will develop a brown spot and then rot. It takes around a week for a trap to digest a bug - (except for the left over indigestible chitinous crusty remains) after which it will reopen, ready for its next meal. DO NOT feed it pieces of hamburger meat, egg, etc. This will also cause the trap to rot, turn black, and you may lose the whole plant.
After your plant’s first spring summer and fall, it needs a rest. Venus Flytraps grow from a bulb and need a dormant period of chilly (but not freezing) temperatures for about three months during which the plant rests. An easy way to remember this is the time from Thanksgiving until Valentines Day. During this time, keep the plant moist (so it doesn’t dry out), but not wet. You can place the plant in a Ziploc bag. A cold garage, cold window, or the refrigerator is good places to keep the plant during its dormancy period. Don't let the plant freeze. When spring comes, bring the plant out and grow it as before for another season.